During September and October, parents from Canberra are invited to take a baby massage class to help raise funds for a good cause. Australian children’s charity: The International Association of Infant Massage (known as “IAIM”) has joined forces with the Emma DeSilva Foundation to celebrate the extraordinary bonds that parents everywhere have with their babies, while at the same time helping support a family who understand these bonds…perhaps better than most.
In case you missed Emma’s story you can view the video here. On the 14th of March 2011, Emma De Silva and her 19-day-old daughter Eloise set out for their daily afternoon walk. Only metres from home, a car mounted the curb knocking Emma into the air, before colliding with Eloise in her pram. Baby Eloise suffered head and shoulder injuries and was in hospital for a week. Emma suffered catastrophic brain injuries and her husband, Yoshi, was advised to turn off her life-support machines. He refused, but Emma was so severely brain damaged she was not expected to recover.
Once Eloise was discharged from hospital, Yoshi was determined to ensure mother and baby had the chance to bond. He began a daily ritual of taking Eloise into the hospital and placing the tiny newborn, skin-to-skin, on the chest of her deeply unconscious mother. At first there was nothing, but what happened next defied all medical expectations. When Eloise was placed on her mother, Emma began to move: first a fluttering of the eyes, then a finger. Finally, after being in a coma for 84 days, Emma woke up holding her baby daughter in her arms.
Both Yoshi and Emma’s doctors are convinced that skin-to-skin contact with Eloise played a vital role in Emma’s miraculous recovery. Dr. Graham Reynolds, a leading Canberra Paediatrician, Neonatologist, and Ambassador of IAIM says this makes sense. “It is not exaggerating to say that touch is probably one of the most important aspects of healthy development for both parents and a baby.”
“For unwell and premature babies, touch can literally mean the difference between life and death. Skin-to-skin contact reduces the time these fragile babies are in hospital and it improves their development in the long-term. Even for healthy babies, touch affects all aspects of a child’s development – such as sleep, settling and even their long term mental health and their behavioural, cognitive and social development.”
“Skin-to-skin contact with their baby also affects the brain activity of mothers. It reduces anxiety and improves brain wave patterns. Controlled trials have shown mothers who attended a baby massage course with the International Association of Infant Massage experienced reductions in symptoms of postnatal depression, and their babies developed much better over the long-term too. Yoshi’s instincts to bring Emma and Eloise together were spot on.”
Emma is now looking forward to a long and happy life being a mum to Eloise. With help, Emma is able to feed her baby and care for her in ways that most parents take for granted. But both Emma and Yoshi have a punishing road ahead with an unrelenting physical therapy program, and the need for specialist equipment and ongoing supports.
Canberra locals Jules Jaruguei and Alice Campbell are a fully qualified, internationally accredited instructors with the International Association of Infant Massage. Along with dozens of instructors in many other parts of Australia, Jules and Alice will be holding infant massage courses in Canberra helping to raise some urgently needed funds to support the DeSilva family. Instead of paying for a baby massage class, parents from Canberra can make a tax-deductible donation with 100% of profits being passed directly to the DeSilva Foundation. These classes are suitable for healthy babies as well as those with additional needs and Dr Reynolds says, “This is a wonderful way ordinary parents can help out the DeSilva family, while at the same time bringing a part of Eloise’s magic touch into their own lives”.
To find out more about this Baby Massage Class go to: www.iaim.org.au or call Alice on 6262 4346 or Jules on 0413 223 573.